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Killer was the seventh episode of Series B first broadcast 20 February 1979. It was the first episode to be written by Robert Holmes.


From the VHS release:

The destination is the planet Fosforon, the mission is to crack the Federation's new transmission code. Then Blake and his crew discover a centuries old spaceship and a deadly plague. Suddenly the fight is on again...but this time it's for the survival of the universe...


Avon and Vila teleport down to Q-Base, a Federation installation on the planet Fosforon. The base commander, Tynus, is an old friend of Avon's and Avon uses the fact that he kept quiet about Tynus' involvement when he was arrested to blackmail him into helping them steal a translator crystal which they need to decode Federation transmissions. Tynus agrees to help but then tells his assistant Tak to alert Servalan to the Liberator's presence.

The base's chief scientist, Bellfriar, detects an ancient Wanderer K47, one of the first deep space ships from eight hundred years previous, drifting near the planet and sends up a salvage crew. The Liberator monitors the incident and Cally senses an alien presence onboard. Blake has Orac send Bellfriar a warning about the ship, then decides to teleport down himself.

Blake meets up with Bellfriar and his assistant Gambrill, who ignore his status as a wanted criminal. He explains the Wanderer K47 went missing in 61 Cygni, the only local area of space never explored, where several ships have disappeared. A corpse is found onboard, decomposed but largely intact. A doctor named Wiler performs an autopsy and learns the body is that of Wardin, one of the missing crew, before it briefly comes to life and kills him. Soon after, the chief medical officer, Bax, reports two technicians who tried to save Wiler are suffering from a plague, as are the staff treating them.

Tynus tells Avon that requesting the base's replacement crystal from the security division would cause suspicion. Avon comes up with a solution: They will sabotage the console where it is located, causing a fire, and then remove the crystal. Tynus can pretend it was destroyed in the fire and request a replacement.

Blake realises Wardin's body was preserved in stasis and infected with the virus. He killed Wiler on remote control from unknown aliens in 61 Sygni in order to break the quarantine. Bax also dies from the virus, as does Gambrill when he tries to stop infected technicians leaving the quarantine area. Blake takes samples back to the Liberator for Orac to analyse.

Avon and Vila discover Tynus' message and decide to steal the crystal with the base in disarray. Vila is distracted by a plague-infected Tak, allowing Tynus to knock him out. Avon and Tynus fight and Tynus falls onto an exposed console and is electrocuted. Avon and Vila teleport up with the crystal.

Bellfriar contacts Blake with his findings: The plague is designed to affect all humans who have been in space, seemingly as a way of confining them. However, he succumbs to the plague before he can tell Blake the cure. Despite Avon advocating letting Servalan land on the planet and contract the plague, Blake and Jenna place a plague warning in orbit.



Story notes[]

  • Although broadcast seventh, this was the second episode recorded for Series B. It originally featured Gan in a small role operating the teleport, which was removed when the decision was taken to move it after "Pressure Point". Moving it to after "Trial" also lost a reference to Travis being en route to the planet with Servalan.
  • This is the first of four episodes written by Robert Holmes.
  • The protective suits worn by the boarding party were rented Michelin Man costumes combined with a different facemask.
  • The six computer screens along the far wall in the decoding room are actually microfiche readers.
  • This is the only Robert Holmes script to not have the characters playing chess.
  • Both Ronald Lacey and Colin Farrell appeared in Porridge.



Filming locations[]

Oldbury on Severn nuclear power station

Production errors[]

A boom microphone is briefly visible in the right hand of shot when Belfriar says his line "beautiful" whilst examining the virus.



  • The crime Avon and Tynus took part in may be the fraud mentioned in "Space Fall", although this is not made clear. Further details of the fraud are given in "Rumours of Death".
  • Servalan is mentioned but not seen.
  • The quest for the translator crystal echoes the similar raid for the cypher machine in "Seek-Locate-Destroy".


Avon: This is where he'll be.
Vila: How do you know?
Avon: He's the base commander, this is the command centre. It has a certain logic, wouldn't you say?
Vila: Well...he might be on holiday.

Vila: When Avon holds out the hand of friendship, watch his other hand: That's the one with the hammer.

Avon: There are a quarter of a million volts running through that converter. I make one false move, I'll be so crisped up what's left of me won't fit into a sandwich.
Vila: I'm a vegetarian. Thanks for the offer, though.

Avon: Blake takes risks to help other people. Sometimes people he doesn't even know.

Home video releases[]

Series 2 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 10) in 1991.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 10) on 5 October 1998.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 2 box set on 17 January 2005.

External links[]